MEDA, the Mastercard Foundation, and the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) collaborated to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the agribusiness sector in the Ziguinchor, Sédhiou, Kolda, and Tambacounda regions of Senegal.
IREM stands for “Initiative pour la Résilience Économique des Micro, Moyennes et Petites Entreprises” in French. It means “Initiative for the Economic Resilience of Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises” in English.
The goal of the IREM project was to sustain and increase agricultural productivity of producers in the four above mentioned regions and to improve the business resilience of Senegalese market actors during COVID-19.
IREM worked to support 19,000 women and youth led agricultural producers and MSMEs. Through ISRA, digital platforms, local farmer organizations and youth leaders, producers and MSMEs will receive hands-on and digital agribusiness development services.
MSMEs, small farmers, and women and youth-led businesses are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19; the majority of which are in the informal sector and account for at least 80% of Senegalese businesses. Shortages of key agricultural inputs, particularly high-quality seeds adapted to changing climate conditions, could potentially affect productivity levels while movement restrictions and market closures may prevent farmers from growing and selling crops. High levels of unemployment due to COVID-19 also suppressed consumer demand for agricultural products.
The problems of small producers are worsened by those of other actors in agricultural value chains, including traders and food processors, which leads to unstable food prices and limited purchasing power.
To prevent a food crisis in Senegal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Senegal launched the Force COVID-19 plan, a stimulus effort to provide direct economic support to its most affected economic sectors, including agriculture. COVID-19 challenges to food imports – on which Senegal depends – present an opportunity for local producers to increase production and sales.
MEDA and its partners, through IREM, are worked to protect agricultural value chains, strengthen the resilience of MSMEs, speed their economic recovery, and increase diversification of production and economic growth. The project catalyzed digital platforms to limit disruptions of the supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: in doing so, the linkages between farmers, processors, distribution, storage, aggregation and MSMEs will be reinforced to prevent a food security crisis.
IREM ensured that: